The little boss is carried by papa slave and gently placed on his booster throne. He sits there with his big puppy eyes glancing nonchalantly at the bowl of food on the table. Me, the mama slave pulled the chair in front of him and sat down for the meal time tussle. I bring the electronic rhyme book close to me on the table and then take a spoonful of food and bring it to little boss’s mouth. Swish, the face moves away to the right. The royal diss. “Chinnu, you can’t do this, it’s lunch time”.
Well he is one, sure he understands the logic there! I try again. Face moves to the left now.
OK, let’s play some songs. I open the rhyme book and move some knob and the cow maa’s and I hear “hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle” for the nth time. Little boss is distracted and I bring the spoon of food eagerly and he now opens his mouth. I try to load up the spoon fully and thrust as much as possible at this opportunity. I think of my little nephew (my younger cousin’s son who is 3 now) who saw me do this when I was visiting them. He couldn’t help but speak for his kin and said to me in his innocent baby voice “Peimaa, don’t give lot of ok, don’t give lot of!”.
“But, Aadhu, if I don’t give it like that he will eat slowly”
“Slow is OK, don’t give lot of !”, he continued to plead with me like I was a monster who thrust food into my hapless baby.
The next spoon, I load a little less food.
Two more spoons and boss is bored of the two songs in that page, he wants to move on the next.
But the spoon is in front of his mouth and I try to get my way in before turning the page for him.
“Nah ahn…turn the page”, he signals to me by moving his mouth away from the spoon calmly.
I try again.
“Which part of no don’t’ you understand?” . He moves his face away from the spoon while looking at the book and whines “Ahhnnn…”!
I give in. I turn the page.
“Old Mcdonald had a farm…”
Five more spoons in rapid succession while the boss is engrossed in moving the door of the farm and hearing the pigs oink and cows moo. He looks at me again and not wanting to lose the flow, I start singing Old Mcdonald in a high pitch. Poor Ol’McDonald will be stirring in his grave begging me to stop summoning his farm animals million times a day to make my son eat his food.
I begin to relax a little. Looks like the flow is going okay. He is taking the food easily.
And invariably it happens. I tell myself not to jinx it by thinking such thoughts and yet I do it. The boss catches me off guard and grabs the spoon at the head.
“Hmm….what’s this gooy stuff in my hand?”… Pchk pchk…he rubs his hands.
I rush in with a paper towel and wipe his hands. Before I am fully done, he yanks his hand out and decides his nose is itchy and rubs his hand over his nose, eyes. Sticky paruppu sadam all over his face now.
“Such joy” I tell myself angrily and wet the towel and clean his face up.
I try to contain my anger and start singing again.
“Wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round”!
He takes mercy on me I suppose. Few more spoons of food go in.
Suddenly he looks up to see papa slave sitting on the couch in front of the laptop enjoying the lazy Sunday morning. Papa gives him a sweet smile and boss’s face is now completely at an odd angle relative to me.
Papa shakes his head left to right that the boss finds funny and shakes his head vigorously left to right smiling just when I bring the food near his mouth. Now there is a “Got milk?” kind of food moustache on the little one’s mouth. I glare and gnarl at papa slave and tell him, “Why don’t YOU do the feeding?!”.
“I will, but he is not taking food from me, you know that” papa says in his oh so pragmatic manner.
I remember the last time I handed the food for papa to feed, I was handed the bowl back with hardly any food eaten with the simple comment “I don’t think he is interested in lunch”!
“Well, then come and entertain him now that you have distracted him”.
Papa slave immediately responds and brings the “Alphabet pal” toy – a caterpillar with each of its legs a different letter.
Boss responds to the change and allows me to feed him a few more spoonfulls. My heart is beating faster now for I am nearing the end of my journey. For now. Until the next meal. I do wonder if there is some kind of baby genie who is invoked by children to seek vengeance on mothers who insist on boring meals and adds a few more spoonfuls of food at the end phase. I mean it just never ends. I cannot have the satisfaction of a cleaned up bowl. I simply cannot garner any more patience in me to wait while the little boss listens to one full song and then swallows the food. One more song and then he opens his mouth for the next. I console myself that he has eaten most of it even if not all of it. I feel victorious. Relieved feeling that baby dear ate most of the food despite the song and dance routine, the wet towels and spilt food. I just get out of the spot abruptly and tell papa slave “Ok, he is done”.
It is understood that the rest of the clean up is not my domain. I went through the drill of feeding the little boss after all!
I call my friend (parent of a 4yr old) and invariably we discuss our kid’s meals. I tell her “Not bad, he took an hour, but he ate most of it”.
“Oh good, don’t jinx it for tonight” she says in a way only a mother can understand!
I sit on the couch and decide to check my email and forget about “solids” until it is time for dinner!